Low IQ and Dyslexia
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My daughter has recently had a WISC-IV & WIAT II - full scale IQ 54. She
also has ASD & ADHD. The test concluded that she also has severe SpLD
(dyslexia). However, the Local Authority say that because she has a low
IQ, that there is not enough evidence that she is also dyslexic. Her
score showed 0.01 statistical difference between predicted & actual
scores. What do you think? Can a child be dyslexic and have a very low
For the longest time, a child diagnosed as being dyslexic has been also
seen as bright and verbally articulate, but struggles to read. In fact,
as a rule of thumb, children who score high in intelligence tests but
have low reading abilities are seen as dyslexics. Alternatively, if a
child has low IQ and also low reading abilities, they are seen as having
lowered cognitive abilities in general - and not specifically a reading
disorder. In short, the low IQ is the cause of reading problems and not
specific to having dyslexia.
However, recent studies have found that children who are poor readers
have the same brain difficulty in processing the sounds of language
whether they have a high or low IQ. This indicates that reading
difficulty is independent of other cognitive abilities and should not be
assumed dependent and labelled without further testing.
Having said that, a good number of public school systems still require
that a child have an otherwise normal IQ score to receive a diagnosis of
dyslexia and this may be the case with your child. However, new studies
have suggested that even children with low IQ scores might benefit from
treatment specific to dyslexia. Read the article "NIH-funded
study finds dyslexia not tied to IQ" for more information on this.
You may need to speak to the school regarding this. I believe
intervention to treat dyslexia may be very helpful for her to manage
better at school and I hope you would push for this (look up more
articles to prove your point). Best of luck.